Special counsel Robert Mueller unsealed on Monday the first indictments of his investigation into possible collusion between President Trump's campaign and Russia. While Trump supporters were quick to point out the absence of a "smoking gun" proving collusion, Mueller's investigation is far from complete. And the indictment of former Trump campaign officials, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, only adds to the expanding collection of clues hinting at ties between Russia and Trump's campaign.
Though the 2016 election was the first time millions of Americans heard about Russia's attempts to influence U.S. democratic outcomes, it was not a first for the Kremlin. Russia has been engaging in election-subverting tactics in the U.S. since the 1960s, with well-known disinformation campaigns against President Kennedy and President Reagan. In the more recent past, Russia has tried to disrupt elections in neighboring European countries. Intelligence officials in Germany, France, Great Britan and the Netherlands have all reported social media "fake news" campaigns run by Russian operatives with the understood aim of influencing elections.
However, this might be the first time Russia has achieved such extraordinary success in influencing an American election. And there's a hefty and growing pile of facts linking Trump's campaign with the Kremlin.